Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els have a few things in common. Both men are 47 years old, both are in the Hall of Fame and both have had the pleasure of facing Tiger Woods in his prime. They are also both playing in their 100th major of their respective storied careers this week at the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte. During a joint press conference on Tuesday, the two were asked an interesting question:
Do you guys sometimes wonder how many more majors you might have won if Tiger had taken up another sport?
“I feel as though had Tiger not come around, I don’t feel I would have pushed myself to achieve what I ended up achieving, because he forced everybody to get the best out of themselves,” Mickelson answered.
“He forced everybody to work a little bit harder. He forced everybody to look at fitness as a big part of the game of golf, and I think that’s actually helped me with longevity, working with my trainer, Sean Cochran, for 14 years now, trying to stay flexible and so forth to elongate the career. And I feel like that’s been a big part of it and he was a big influence on that.
“So I don’t think I would have had the same level of success had he not come around.”
If there was no Tiger, how many more majors would Phil and Ernie have won?
— Golfweek (@golfweek) August 8, 2017
“I won a couple early on, so I was kind of — I was ready to win quite a few, if you know what I mean,” four-time major champion Ernie Els said. “And then when Tiger came in ’97, and him winning the Masters in the way he did, you know, that kind of threw me off a little bit. I thought I was really one of the top players, which I was, but that was a pretty special display of golf.”
“He got us to really elevate our games, brought so much more attention to the sport, and obviously a lot more dollars to play for. So we’ve got to thank him.
“But, you know, I could have had a couple more, definitely, without him around.”
Aren’t hypothetical questions fun?
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